Episode #30 – Why Am I Not Getting Any Applicants for My Open Position?

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health and Veterinary Industry search consultant and recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help animal health and veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be discussing why some organizations in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession don’t seem to get applicants for their open positions. Hello, Stacy, and welcome to the podcast.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: As I said, today we’ll be discussing why some organizations don’t get applicants for their open positions. But Stacy, we’re going to start by being a bit more specific about our topic, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, we are. That’s because of course, when we ask the question or somebody asks the question, “Why am I not getting any applicants for my open position,” it’s usually not because there is no one applying.

A hiring manager or a hiring authority typically asks a question like that because they’re not receiving the right applications. In other words, they’re not receiving applications from candidates who are considered be highly qualified for the position. That’s really the problem. The problem is not that an employer is not receiving any applications. It’s that they’re not receiving the right applications from the candidates they really want.

Sharita: What are some of the reasons why this would be the case?

Stacy: Well, if you want to go to the root cause, the big reason is because we’re currently in a candidates’ job market. We’ve discussed the implications of a candidates’ job market before, and we’ll do so again now because it has a lot to do with what’s happening in the employment marketplace right now.

The number #1 rule when it comes to a candidates’ market is that candidates have more options. Also, it stands to reason that the best candidates have the most options. That’s because there are numerous organizations that want to employ the best candidates. Since that’s the case, top candidates typically have many options from which to choose.

Sharita: These are called passive candidates, is that right?

Stacy: That’s right. While it’s true that these candidates have more options, it’s also true that many of them are not even looking for a new job in the first place. So let’s talk about that for a minute.

If you’re the best at what you do within your industry or if you’re one of the best, it means your current employer probably wants to keep you employed. In their efforts to do that, they’re going to make sure that you’re adequately compensated. They’re also going to make sure that you enjoy working for their organization, because they don’t want to lose you and the value that you provide their company to another company. In fact, that other company could quite possibly be their direct competition, so you leaving in that context would be a worst-case scenario for them.

Sharita: So employers are wondering why the right people aren’t applying for their jobs. The fact of the matter is that many of these people aren’t even looking for a new job. And if they are looking for a new job, they have plenty of job opportunities available to them.

Stacy: Yes, that about sums it up. But on top of it all, there’s another culprit at work here, as well.

Sharita: There is? What’s that?

Stacy: Well, when hiring managers are wondering why they aren’t getting the right applicants for their open positions, they’re usually talking about the online job application process.

Sharita: Some companies use online job ads extensively when trying to fill their positions, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct. There are a couple of problems with using that approach exclusively when you’re trying to hire. First, if you’re looking to hire the best candidates, then you need to know that the best candidates are passive candidates who aren’t looking for a new job. That means that since they are not looking online for a new job, then the chances they are looking at online job advertisements are slim to none. After all if they are not looking for a new position, why would they be looking online at job advertisements? See the problem?

The second problem is the online application itself. I’d like to reference a study that we’ve discussed before, and that’s because I believe it’s an important one. That study was conducted by one of the larger online job boards, CareerBuilder. According to that study, 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications. The study stated that there are two main reasons why this is the case. Those reasons are how long the application process is and how complex the process is.

Sharita: So more than half of people who start to fill out an online job application don’t finish the application?

Stacy: That’s right, and there’s a certain irony attached to the entire situation. That’s because one of the reasons why employers use a long and complicated application process is that they want to “weed out” the wrong candidates. The irony is that they’re quite possibly doing just the opposite.

Sharita: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: To answer that, question, let me ask a question. Who do you think is more likely to fill out an online job application that is both long and complicated? I’ll give you two possible choices.

The first choice is a passive candidate who is only casually looking for jobs on the Internet. The second choice is a job seeker who is unemployed and has both the time and the motivation to find a new job.

Which of those two do you think is more likely to fill out an online application that is long and complicated?

Sharita: The second person?

Stacy: That’s correct, and I’ll explain why that’s the case. As we’ve mentioned, a top candidate is probably being rewarded by their current employer. Even if they’re casually looking for another job, they’re not that motivated to do so. They’re probably motivated by curiosity more than anything else. So if that’s the case, even if they start an online application, if the process starts taking too much time, they’ll simply stop. There’s nothing that’s really motivating them to finish the application. More than likely, they don’t hate their job. So if the application process isn’t easy, then they’re not going to finish it.

On the other hand, the unemployed job seeker is extremely motivated to finish the application process. They’ll do whatever it takes to finish the process and make sure that their application is successfully submitted.

Sharita: Are you saying that unemployed candidates don’t represent the very best candidates in the marketplace?

Stacy: While it’s possible that an unemployed job seeker could represent a top-level candidate, I would classify that scenario as the exception rather than the rule. What we’re talking about is the top 3% to 5% of the candidate pool. The unemployment rate associated with the top 3% to 5% is exceptionally low. In some cases, it’s literally non-existent.

Sharita: So what organizations are really doing with their complicated application processes is “weeding” out the type of candidates that they want the most?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. And that’s the ironic part of the whole thing.

Employers sometimes underestimate the dynamics that are involved with a candidates’ market. During my career, I have had more than one hiring manager call to ask if I could help them with a high-level search because they tried to fill the position using online just advertisements and had no success at all. Not only that, but these hiring managers also told me that they spent thousands of dollars on the job ads.

Sharita: Were you able to help them?

Stacy: Yes. I was able to find suitable candidates for their positions and I presented them within a short amount of time.

But it was a situation that could have been avoided. These hiring managers spent thousands of dollars and their high-level positions remained unfilled as well as weeks or months in some cases of unproductive time with an important critical position staying open that the organization wanted to fill. When you leave a high-level position open for an extended period of time, you lose even more money in terms of productivity. So this turned out to be a very expensive lesson for these hiring managers and their employers.

Sharita: How were you able to help them as a recruiter in ways that their job advertisements were not able to help?

Stacy: A recruiter like myself can identify the best candidates, whether they’re looking for a new job or not. The key is to get their attention. A recruiter can get the attention of top candidates and then present an employment opportunity. More importantly, they can convince candidates to consider the opportunity including candidates who were not looking for a job in the first place. In many cases the job could be better than the job they have right now but they didn’t even know the job existed until a recruiter like me contacted them.

The bottom line is that an online job application can not do any of those things. And that’s the difference. Job ads are a passive approach and working with a recruiter is a proactive approach.

Sharita: It seems as though this current market requires a different approach if companies want to hire successfully.

Stacy: It does. Organizations must be proactive in their efforts to hire top candidates. Relying solely on job advertisements is reactive like I said before, and it will not reap the results you’re seeking in the long run.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks once again for sharing so much with us today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!